In the tradition of Rachel Carson's landmark 1962 book "Silent Spring" , author Marla Cone presents "Silent Snow: The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic". Cone has been covering environmental affairs for the Los Angeles Times for more than 15 years. She was the recipient of a major grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts to conduct a study of the deteriorating Arctic environment. This book is the culmination of two years of work. During this time Marla Cone visited five Arctic countries and met with dozens of scientists from all over the world. What she found out should frighten you and just might break your heart at the very same time. It is a compelling read.
Did you know that women who reside in remote areas of the Arctic have far higher concentrations of PCBs and mercury in their breast milk than do women who live in the major urban areas of the United States, Asia and Europe? Were you aware that entire ecosystems are being wiped out in areas like the Aleutian Islands? And does it disturb you that polar bears residing near of all places the North Pole are suffering the ill effects of contaminants that were manufactured thousands upon thousands of miles away? It all sounds quite preposterous! And it goes without saying that this situation is so unfair to the indigenous peoples who reside in these areas who get little or no direct benefits from the lion's share of these chemicals and compounds.
In "Silent Snow" author Marla Cone does a splendid job in explaining to the reader the who, what, when. where and why of this tragic situation. She points out that much of the mayhem is being caused by DDT and PCB's that were released into the environment in the 1960's and and 1970's. She goes on to discuss as best she can just how these poisons wound up at the top of the world. We hear from scientists from any number of disciplines who have been studying and trying to solve these enormous problems. We also are introduced to some of the native people themselves who explain what impact all of this is having on their lives. And even as some of the dangers from the DDT and PCBs begin to diminish just a bit we learn of brand new dangers to the region from yet another class of chemicals. Ever heard of the term PBDEs? I sure hadn't. But get used to it because you are going to hear an awful lot about them in the coming years. You will learn just what PBDEs are and what dangers they pose not to just the people of the Arctic, but to each and every one of us.
"Silent Snow: The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic" is an important book that needs to be read and understood and discussed by as many people as possible. As long as people in the industrialized nations of the world choose to remain blind the problem is likely to get much worse. Very highly recommended!
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